Applying for Aid

Determining Financial Need

Most financial aid at Wake Forest is based on a family’s demonstrated financial need. Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, Wake Forest considers undergraduate students to be dependent on their parents. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)™ and CSS Profile® help determine financial aid eligibility.

What is the FAFSA™?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)™ determines eligibility for federal aid programs. Our FAFSA school code is 002978.

What is the CSS Profile®?

The CSS Profile® is used by colleges and scholarship programs to award Institutional (their own) aid. Our school code is 5885.

If a student’s parents are divorced or separated, both parents (and their spouses, if applicable) must provide information through the CSS Profile® application process.

You may use Wake Forest’s Net Price Calculator to obtain an estimate of your eligibility for financial aid. If your family finances are more complex, the estimate may be less accurate, and you may find it helpful to contact Student Financial Aid.

Students must reapply for financial aid each year. Changes in a family’s financial circumstances (such as a fewer children in undergraduate college) may significantly affect financial aid eligibility in subsequent years. Students are not required to accept available work-study and loan options in order to receive grants and scholarships.

Families who experience a dramatic change in financial circumstances may submit a written letter of appeal with a detailed explanation and supporting documentation.

If you have additional questions about how need is determined after exploring this page, we recommend you check out our Determining Need FAQ section. If you still can’t find the information you’re looking for, please feel free to reach out to us.

How to Apply for Need-Based Aid

Make sure to complete your financial aid applications by the priority dates below to receive an aid notification before your enrollment decision date.

Priority filing dates

The priority filing dates to submit the 2023-2024 CSS Profile®, FAFSA™, and 2021 federal income tax documents for the 2023-24 academic year are:

Early Decision I

November 15

Early Decision II,
Regular Decision

January 1

Returning Students

February 1

Ready to apply?

First-Year & Transfer Students

Priority filing dates for new students (first-year and transfer applicants).

Returning Students

Priority filing dates for returning (upperclass) students.

Supplemental forms

Supplemental forms are sometimes required of need-based aid applicants. Student Financial Aid notifies applicants if any supplemental forms are required. Applicants should not submit any form unless requested to do so.

Applying for Need and Merit-Based Scholarships

Most scholarships (including full-cost scholarships) do not require a separate merit-based scholarship application. Instead, students only need to submit their complete application for undergraduate admissions by November 15.


Determining Need

  • How is need determined?

    The basic premise of financial aid is that the primary responsibility for meeting college costs rests with the student and his or her parents, to the extent they are able to pay. The difference between the cost of attendance at the institution and the calculated ability of a family to meet this cost is defined as a student’s “demonstrated need.” A family’s ability to meet the cost of attendance is determined from an in-depth assessment of the information reported on the CSS Profile® and FAFSA™. Need is determined according to a set of standards and principles developed by the College Board.

  • Wake Forest offers to meet the full demonstrated need of all regularly admitted applicants. What does this mean?

    For those regular decision applicants who meet the financial aid deadlines, Wake Forest will meet 100% of demonstrated need through a combination of scholarships (grants based on merit), gift aid (financial aid that does not have to be repaid), loans (borrowed money that must be repaid with interest), and work-study (money students earn from jobs to help pay for educational expenses).

  • What is the income cut-off for financial aid eligibility?

    Since income is only one factor that is taken into consideration in determining eligibility for financial aid, there is no income cutoff. In addition to income, we take into consideration many factors, including parent and student assets, family size, tax liability, the number of students in college, home equity, medical and educational expenses, business investments, rental property, and summer student earnings. The only way to determine eligibility for financial aid is to submit an application. Approximately 40% of full-time undergraduates demonstrate financial need.

  • Can I estimate the contribution my family will be expected to make towards my education?

    The Net Price Calculator provides an estimate of financial aid and the expected family contribution to educational costs. These estimates may not be accurate for families with complicated financial situations or extenuating family circumstances.

  • My parents do not declare me as a dependent on their income taxes. Can I be classified as an independent student for financial aid purposes?

    Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, Wake Forest considers all undergraduate students to be dependent on parents for institutional financial aid purposes, even though some students may meet the federal definition of “independence.” A student may not declare independence during his or her undergraduate years due to attainment of legal age, internal family arrangements, marriage, parenthood, or family disagreements.

  • Will I know about financial aid at the time I am admitted to the University?

    If your financial aid application is complete by the March 1st priority deadline, you should receive a financial aid decision shortly after you receive your offer of admission.

  • What if my family’s financial circumstances change after I receive my financial aid award?

    Any substantive changes in a family’s financial situation should be reported immediately in writing to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Examples of such changes are a significant decrease in income, unusual medical expenses, or a change in parents’ marital status. The Financial Aid Committee will review the request for reconsideration to determine if an adjustment is warranted.

  • What impact will a reduction in the number of children in college have on my financial aid in subsequent years?

    If your need is based on two or more children in college at the same time, and the sibling later graduates or is no longer enrolled in undergraduate college, then your award may be significantly reduced. The more financial resources your parents have, the greater the impact will be. Siblings enrolled in graduate or professional school, while possibly considered in determining your eligibility for federal aid, are not included in making decisions about the amount of institutional aid you are awarded.

  • Are international students eligible for need-based aid?

    Students classified as international students by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions are not eligible to receive need-based aid. However, international students with exceptional academic and leadership credentials should consider applying for merit scholarships.

    International students interested in campus or community employment opportunities should review the student employment section of the web site. If there are questions about working on campus, international students may contact the Student Employment Supervisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid.

    Students interested in borrowing to help pay for college, who can enlist a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to co-sign a loan promissory note, should refer to the information on the eduPASS website.

Applying for Aid

  • What forms and documents do I need to submit to apply for financial aid?

    All students applying for federal financial aid are required to complete the FAFSA™ each year.  All students applying for Wake Forest need-based scholarships are required to complete the CSS Profile®.  While the CSS Profile® is not required if only applying for federal financial aid, to be considered for all available sources of financial aid, students should complete both applications.  In addition, parents and students must submit signed copies of prior-prior year federal income tax returns (including all schedules, W-2 wage statements, partnership tax returns and schedules, and S corporation tax returns and schedules). If either the student or parent did not file a tax return, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to obtain a non-tax return filer form.

  • If my parents are separated or divorced, do they both need to submit financial information?

    Yes. Wake Forest’s policy for determining need is based on the principle that both parents have a responsibility to contribute to the costs of education. We therefore need financial information from both households. The custodial parent and current spouse (if applicable) should complete the CSS Profile® and FAFSA™ applications. The noncustodial parent and current spouse (if applicable) should complete the CSS Noncustodial Profile. Both parents and stepparents are required to submit copies of W-2 wage statements and income tax returns, including all schedules, to verify reported income.

  • Where do I obtain the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications?

    The online FAFSA application is available at The paper version is available at most secondary schools and colleges. The FAFSA school code for Wake Forest is 002978.

    The online CSS Profile® application may be accessed on the CSS Profile website. The CSS Profile® school code for Wake Forest is 5885.

  • What is the difference between the FAFSA™ and the CSS Profile?®

    The CSS Profile® is used to determine eligibility for institutional funds, while the FAFSA™ is used to determine eligibility for federal aid. There are variations in the way the two applications gather information and evaluate criteria to determine need. The CSS Profile® was developed by the College Scholarship Service of the College Board and is the primary tool used by many private institutions to determine the expected family share of costs for education.

    In evaluating a family’s ability to pay educational expenses, the CSS Profile® follows what is known as institutional methodology (IM). The information is used to determine how need-based funding will be awarded from the resources of the institution.

    The FAFSA™ follows federal methodology (FM) and is used solely to determine eligibility for federal aid, including Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Work-Study jobs.

    Both applications are necessary to establish eligibility for all available sources of financial aid.

  • What are the due dates for applying for financial aid? When can I expect to hear about my award?

    Incoming freshmen students must submit the CSS Profile® and FAFSA™ between October 1 and November 15 (Early Decision), or between October 1 and January 1 (Regular Decision and Early Decision II). All income tax documents must be submitted to CSS IDOC by November 15 (Early Decision) or January 1 (Regular Decision and Early Decision II). Students who meet these deadlines should receive notification of eligibility for financial aid as early as December 1 (Early Decision), February 15 (Early Decision II), or April 1 (Regular Decision).

    Returning and transfer students must complete the CSS Profile® and FAFSA™ by February 1, and submit all tax documents to CSS IDOC by February 1.  Returning and transfer students who meet the February 1 priority deadline will be notified of financial aid awards in early June.

  • Do we need to have our taxes completed to file the CSS Profile® and FAFSA™ applications?

    Yes. Students and families use prior-prior year tax returns to complete both applications.

  • If I am not able to provide all of the materials by the deadlines, will I lose the opportunity to receive financial aid?

    Financial aid awards cannot be made until all necessary documentation is received. Since a financial aid award may determine a student’s ability to attend Wake Forest, all students are encouraged to meet the priority deadlines. By submitting the materials by the deadlines, students maximize their chances to be considered for the full range of gift aid, including a variety of need-based scholarships.

  • Do I need to reapply for financial aid each year?

    Yes. All returning students must reapply for aid each year by submitting the FAFSA (for federal aid) and the CSS Profile® (for Wake Forest need-based aid) by February 1, and sending all required US income tax documents to CSS IDOC by February 1.

    If you are only applying for federal financial aid funds, then you do not have to complete the CSS Profile®.

  • Will I receive the same financial aid award for all four years?

    The total dollar amount of financial aid awards is based on need. Any change in family circumstances, such as an increase or decrease in parents’ or student’s income, assets, family size, or number of family members attending college, may affect eligibility for financial aid. If the family’s circumstances do not change significantly over four years, the financial aid package should be comparable each year.

Ready to Apply?

What steps to take, as well as deadlines, for students who wish to apply for need-based aid.


If you have any questions or concerns about how to apply for need-based aid, please reach out to us and one of our financial aid specialists will be happy to assist you!

Contact Info (Undergraduate)

For additional contact information, visit our Contact page.